What's happening at the U.N.?

By Henry Lamb
web posted August 21, 2000

The mainstream media has been silent about the events surrounding the Millennium Assembly and Summit that will occur during the first weeks of September. The Internet, however, is teeming with articles and information about the largest gathering of world leaders in history.

Not surprisingly, the reports range from hysteria to hype. On the one hand, reports can be found which claim that the world as we know it will end when the final gavel falls on September 9th. On the other hand, there are reports that claim the concern is overblown, and that fears of global governance are based on little more than the wishful thinking of radical non-government organizations.

Both positions are wrong.

It is extremely important that the American people know what is happening at the United Nations. The Millennium Assembly and Summit is, perhaps, the most important meeting in the history of the U.N. When the sun rises on September 10, the world will appear precisely as it was on September 9; it will not be the same world, however.

The purpose of the Millennium Assembly and Summit is to bring together the official U.N. delegates to the Millennium Assembly, and as many as 160 heads of state, to authorize the United Nations to begin the implementation of a series of recommendations designed to bring about a new system of governance described by the U.N. as "global governance."

The changes will not be immediate. In fact, some of the changes may take years to accomplish. But the changes on the horizon are far more than the wishful thinking of radical NGOs. The September event at the U.N. is designed to provide the U.N. with official authorization to continue a process that has been underway for many years - without official authorization.

The United Nations insists that "global governance" is not "world government." The distinction between the two terms, however, lies in the eyes of the beholder. At the very least, global governance is "...the subordination of national sovereignty to democratic transnationalism," as reported in the EcoSocialist Review (Summer, 1991) about the meeting in Stokholm at which the Commission on Global Governance was conceived. At worst, global governance is a system of centralized control of an enormous bureaucracy through which public policies are developed and administered.

The specific actions recommended to achieve global governance are not the ideas of NGOs. The NGOs are the pawns of the originators of the ideas to give the appearance of public support. The recommendations for actions to achieve global governance have evolved through a series of conferences around the world for nearly two decades. These recommendations were refined by the Commission on Global Governance for four years, and released in a 410-page report entitled Our Global Neighborhood, in 1995. Since then, those recommendations have been further refined, and to some extent, implemented through the reform process led by Maurice Strong, Executive Coordinator for U.N. Reform, who was also a member of the Commission on Global Governance.

It is no accident that the Charter for Global Democracy , developed by a network of NGOs, contains virtually all the recommendations of the Commission on Global Governance. It is no accident that the 31-page report of the NGO Forum, contains essentially all the recommendations presented in the Charter for Global Democracy, arranged in a format almost parallel to the agenda of the Millennium Assembly. It is no accident that Kofi Annan's April 3 report prepared for the Millennium Assembly, sets forth all the urgent needs that must be addressed, which - not coincidentally - are addressed by the recommendations of the NGO Forum.

For example, the idea of eliminating the veto and permanent member status in the U.N. Security Council was advanced in 1995 by the Commission on Global Governance, which said:

"The world must find a better basis for constituting its highest organ of governance than permanent membership for a few countries. We believe strongly that the veto is an unacceptable feature in global governance.: (p. 239)

Charter99, also known as the Charter for Global Democracy, was developed between 1997 and 1999 as a project of the United Nations Association and other NGOs that translated the recommendations of the Commission on Global Governance into 12 principles. Principle number 4 says simply: "Make the U.N. Security Council fair, effective, and democratic. In his April 3, 2000 report prepared for the Millennium Assembly, Kofi Annan says:

"...decision-making structures through which governance is exercised internationally must reflect the broad realities of our times. The United Nations Security Council is an obvious case in point. Composition of the Council today does not fully represent either the character or the needs of our globalized world." (Paragraph 44, )

The NGO Forum, itself created by the United Nations in compliance with a recommendation from the Commission on Global Governance, incorporated the recommendations contained in the Charter for Global Democracy in its May 26, 2000 report prepared for the Millennium Assembly. Their report says:

" The U.N. should begin to phase out the existing permanent membership.... [and] to limit and move toward eliminating the use of the veto." (p. 27)

This process is typical of the evolution of all the recommendations of the Commission on Global Governance. Some of the recommendations, such as global taxation, have also been endorsed by the Canadian government, and similar resolutions of endorsement has been introduced in the U.S. Congress (HR4453 and H.Con.Res 346). These recommendations are not simply the wishful thinking of radical NGOs.

But neither are these recommendations going to become international law upon adjournment of the Millennium Assembly. The most likely immediate outcome of the September meeting is the adoption of a "Declaration of World Leaders," or a statement by some similar name. The document will most likely express the objectives to be achieved by the implementation of the recommendations, rather than a statement of the recommendations themselves. The document - by whatever name it is called - is also quite likely to authorize the creation of a new special U.N. Commission to oversee the restructuring necessary to achieve the objectives stated in the declaration.

Kofi Annan

As early as 1998, Kofi Annan laid the groundwork for such a special commission in Agenda Item 157, Document Number A/52/850 which calls for the Millennium Assembly to establish a special commission "to examine the constitutional framework as outlined in the Secretary-General's reform report" (A/51/950, paragraph 89).

The process of implementing all of the recommendations of the Commission on Global Governance will take several years. Many of the recommendations can be implemented administratively, while some will require modifying the U.N. Charter which requires Senate ratification.

What will be different on September 10, is that the United Nations will have the authority of the U.N. General Assembly and the signature of the heads of state of most of the world's nations to begin implementing the recommendations required to achieve the objectives expressed in the Millennium Declaration.

The Millennium Assembly and Summit is seen by the United Nations to be the point beyond which there is no turning back from a system of "democratic transnationalism," otherwise described as global governance.

Most of the world sees global governance as an improvement over their present condition. To those who cherish the principles of freedom which produced the United States of America, global governance must be seen as a giant step backward. Global governance not only subordinates national sovereignty to an international power, it views individual freedom as a commodity to be granted, or denied, by government. Private property is seen as an obstacle to the equitable distribution of the earth's resources, and private prosperity, possible only by ravaging the less fortunate, is scorned as greed,.

What's happening in New York cannot be stopped. The global governance, as envisioned by the Commission on Global Governance, the NGO Forum, and the United Nations can - and must be stopped. It can be stopped by withdrawing support and funding from the United Nations before the United Nations acquires independent funding through global taxation.

Global governance must be stopped, not only because of its anticipated power over the United States, but also because it would postpone, by perhaps as much as a century, the discovery of the principles of freedom and self-governance throughout the rest of the world. America has demonstrated the power of individual freedom, private property and free markets, and should use the United Nations to encourage other nations to enjoy the same benefits. It is unconscionable for representatives of the United States to advocate for a system of governance that diminishes those principles of freedom, either in the United States, or in any other nation.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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